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Rail chief claims Transport for London could have pumped more cash into new trains if it won franchise

PUBLISHED: 12:44 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 16 May 2017

Southeastern passengers

Southeastern passengers

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However, Stephen Gasche also suggested the service level would have been the same

Passengers in Bromley and Bexley may have benefitted from new trains if Transport for London took over the south eastern rail franchise, a council chief has claimed.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling came under fire last year for rejecting mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s proposals for TfL to take control of metro services currently operated by Southeastern.

Conservative Mr Grayling was accused of putting politics ahead of passengers after a leaked letter showed he opposed the devolution of suburban rail services in the London area to keep the network “out of the clutches” of a Labour mayor.

As Kent County Council this week outlined its response to the government’s consultation on the new franchise, set to commence in 2018, the authority’s principal transport planner for rail, Stephen Gasche, suggested TfL could have pumped more cash into rolling stock, but would not necessarily have improved services.

His comments back up those of Mr Grayling, who has denied any politicisation, insisting Mr Khan’s business plan fell short, a claim the mayor denies, saying his case sets out “substantial benefits” for passengers in the region.

Quizzed on whther reliability of metro services in Bromley and Bexley would have improved with TfL in control, Mr Gasche told us: “It’s difficult to say, that all depends on the relationship between Transport for London and Network Rail.

“If TfL had been offered the franchise they would have been able to access a lot more capital investment for new trains, for example, but the service level, at least for the initial years, would have been the same.

“But we are where we are, and we’re operating with a network that gives us high speed, mainline and metro services, and we need to make sure it’s right in all those parts.”

Managing director of Southeastern, David Statham, said the firm had made significant improvements to its services in recent months, with 94 per cent of trains arriving within five minutes, and 72 per cent arriving on time.

The consultation on the future of the rail franchise closes next Tuesday (May 23) and is available to view at http://bit.ly/2p0R6Gf

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